When People Walk Into Your Store

I spent part of this afternoon at an auto dealership. One of my radio stations had an appearance there (station van, tent, prizes).

I arrived about 15 minutes before the appearance was scheduled to start. Couldn’t figure out where I was supposed to be, so I parked the car and walked, slowly, all the way around the building, looking for someone to ask.

As near as anyone there could tell, I was a potential customer. But nobody approached me.

Finally I walked inside. Nobody even looked at me. So I  stuck my head in an office, and the person there came out and sent me in the right direction.

About an hour later I was at the station tent when a man walked up and asked what we were doing there. We explained that it was an appearance to try to draw some more customers to the store, and he told us that he’d come by to take a test drive.

“I can’t find anyone to help me”, he said, “so I’m going home.”

Our Marketing Director, Melissa Ives, told him to wait. She then marched up to the building, fetched a salesman, brought him to the station tent, and introduced him to the customer. If that customer bought anything today, Melissa will not receive a commission — but she should.

I write this in the middle of an unprecedented downturn in the auto business. The  dealers we work with have been moaning for months about a lack of traffic and low sales.

Meanwhile, on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Portland, Oregon, a group of auto dealership employees paid no attention to at least two potential customers who walked onto their lot. I’m guessing that we weren’t the only ones who were ignored.

On Monday, the General Manager will look at his weekend sales figures and complain that the advertising isn’t working.

What happens when customers walk into your store? Are you sure?


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9 thoughts on “When People Walk Into Your Store

  1. Sorry, hit submit to quickly. Anyway, do you think it’s part of the general doom and gloom climate, and self-fulfilling prophecy? “Oh, the economy is so bad, nobody is buying, so why even try,” and then nobody is buying because nobody’s making an effort to sell?

  2. Phil,

    My first thought was, “I hope someone brings this to the dealer’s attention.”

    My second thought was, “What difference would it make if someone did?”

    Fact is, if this dealer in these times doesn’t already have the motivation, mechanism, and/or people to make the most of every opportunity to meet and greet a prospective buyer, he’s either independently wealthy and doesn’t care or he doesn’t know enough to care.
    Either way, it doesn’t appear to be a good situation for him.

    But what an opportunity for a competitor.


  3. I wish I could say this the first time I’ve heard of this happening but it’s not. You can lead the horse to the water but you surely can’t make him drink … especially when the client is not doing good business.

    I often tell my clients that advertising takes far too much blame when it doesn’t meet expectations and far too much credit when it does.

    Paul Weyland says that even the best advertising will not fix a glaring marketing problem. This dealership has a glaring marketing problem that needs to be fixed.

  4. More times than not, the real goal of advertising is to introduce prospects to a company. Nothing more. It’s the people of that company that either continue the relationship or not.

    Advertising a horrible product, or in this case service and experience, only introduces more people to a disappointing interaction.

  5. Yep…you would think. I went to Sears Automotive to have an oil change done. There were barely any other customers. They had five “mechanics” working on my car and it took them forever. They were uninterested and didn’t even do courtesy checks like at JiffyLube. All I could think was that they don’t care about repeat business and that no way, no how was I going back there again. In these times, no one’s job is safe and apathy is even more pathetic than ever.

  6. PS Promotion is only part of the marketing mix, and the only part we are involved with. We can bring people in, but we can’t make them buy. That is what the advertiser has to do to seal the deal. How many poorly lit, understaffed, out-of-stock stores have you gone to?